Deloitte: Holiday spending up despite gloomy forecasts

NEW YORK — Despite many forecasts of a gloomy holiday season for retailers, Deloitte is predicting an increase in consumer spending. Deloitte's 28th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends indicates shoppers surveyed plan to spend an average of $421 on holiday gifts this year, up from $386 last year. They also expect to buy an average of 12.9 gifts, ending a five-year decline in the number of gifts they plan to purchase.

The amount consumers plan to spend on non-gift items for themselves or their families rose 14% from 2012, while spending on home and holiday furnishings jumped 25% from last year. In addition, 54% of consumers believe the economy is on the rebound, an increase of 22 percentage points in the past two years.

The Internet moved into the top spot among holiday shopping destinations for the first time in its 15 years represented in the survey, bumping discount/value department stores from the No. 1 position. Nearly half (47%) of consumers plan to purchase items online, followed by 44% at discount/value stores. More than three-quarters (76%) of consumers cite convenience as a reason for shopping online, followed by price (63%). 

The omnichannel shopper is most likely to make retailers' spirits bright. Those who shop a combination of store, Internet and mobile channels plan to spend a total of $1,643 on the holidays, 76% higher than those who shop in the store only. Nearly 8-in-10 (77%) consumers say that if a product is not available on a store's website, they will go elsewhere, while only 13% would go to that same retailer's store. In addition, 45% of all respondents indicate they would switch to an entirely different store chain or website if they can't find the desired item in a retailer's store.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of consumers say their holiday spending will be influenced by coupons or promotional offers.  
  • More than 7-in-10 (71%) say they plan to take advantage of free shipping offers, while nearly half (47%) expect free returns.  More than 4-in-10 (44%) shoppers intend to take retailers up on price-matching guarantees, 36% will shop extended hours and 35% plan to order online for in-store pickup.
  • Retailers also may have good reason to roll out the promotions early this year: The number of consumers who say they expect to complete the majority of their shopping by early November (30%) rose five percentage points from last year.  One-quarter (25%) of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, and 24% plan to do so on Cyber Monday. Forty-five percent indicate that Black Friday isn't as important as it used to be.

"The survey reveals a brighter consumer spending outlook than we've seen in several years," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail and distribution sector leader. "Consumers are feeling more generous about gift spending, and we are encouraged by their plans to spend more on going out for celebrations, decorating their homes and treating themselves and their families to 'early gifts' while holiday shopping this year. The government shutdown and debt crisis had the potential to dampen consumer sentiment; however, the settlement likely averted any significant impact on the holiday season. The timely resolution of those issues may also give consumers an extra confidence boost just as promotions start hitting the stores and the shopping season gets underway."


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